Coming this month: Burma's first LGBT film festival

By |
November 3, 2014

Coming this November 14, the nation of Burma (also known as Myanmar) will host its first LGBT film festival. Lasting three days, the festival is aimed at bringing the Asian LGBT community closer together, and making LGBTs more visible to the rest of Burmese society.

The festival is focusing on films from Southeast Asia and will display about thirty films from nearly all ASEAN nations and include at least five local productions. The event is organized by &PROUD, a non-profit initiatives of several organizations and individuals operating in Yangon, former capital of Burma. Among some of the organizations involved are Colors Rainbow, Equality Myanmar, YG Event, Abadi Art, French Institute Myanmar, Canadian Embassy in Yangon and others. They are expecting vast critics but hope for sparkling a public discussion and debate about the legal situation for LGBT persons in Burma and elsewhere in Asia.

Since 2012, when political reforms of the authoritarian government took place, LGBT people in Burma gained more recognition. However, same-sex relationships are still illegal and punishable by fines or imprisonment for 10 years up to life under the Section 377 of the penal code.

Also in the run-up to the festival is a two week workshop organized in partnership with Actionaid, as part of the Turning Tables project. Ten young LGBT people from all across Burma will learn how to make and subsequently produce three short films that will be included in the program. The ideas developed at this workshop will be used as an inspiration for longer films that the group wants to crowd fund over the coming year in preparation for the second edition of the Yangon LGBT film festival.

Turning Tables is a global non-profit organization aiming to empower marginalized youth worldwide through music and film production. It sets up music labs in conflict prone countries to provide young with a platform to express their hopes and dreams and a place where they can learn new skills and share their experiences. It also supports and helps to organize festivals and concerts focusing on strengthening freedom of expression, as is in the case of the &PROUD film festival.